#2,060: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Sorcerer - ★★★☆☆
For me, this was the good kind of puzzling at the outset. Like The Exorcist, the bits you've heard about don't start falling into place for about an hour. I liked the abruptness, the way the film gets out on the out line of a scene and not a moment later. Scenes that didn't have a line to end on though, I think a few of them could have stood to be trimmed down a bit. Fun to watch with a crowd of folks being made to worry.

Runaway Train - ★½☆☆☆
Wow. Multiple Oscar nods? Wow. I would have labeled Eric Roberts' character as either a disaster on the page or a disaster in the edit. Maybe both. It's like a poor man's Emperor of the North.

Under the Skin - ★★☆☆☆
This is a video that my friend Russell would like.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - ★★★★☆
With a constant tension that 24 can only dream about, this didn't feel much like a summer movie to me at all. Pros: Good score, has subtext in the vein of classic sci-fi, some amazing/horrifying imagery, and lots of apes. Cons: No one actually named Dawn.

Media Monday: Project Giant Robot, Picross, and EVOLand

Let's talk video games this week:

PS3 - The Unfinished Swan - ★★☆☆☆
A neat concept that I generally found to be kind of a chore to work through. Gilliam's cameo was a nice touch.

Wii - Project: Guard, Project: Giant Robot, & Splattoon Demos - ★★★★☆
These were all demos I played during downtime (re: hour-long gameplay segments of Smash Bros) while working in the Nintendo booth at E3. Guard was pretty fun, and involved a crowd shouting out when they saw robots sneaking up on me. In Giant Robot, I was knocked down once or twice by the evil robots, but I always took 'em down with me. In Splattoon, my army of squidgirls (Orange) triumphed over the other, lesser team (Purple). The motion controls were tricky, but I was determined to play it as intended. (One little extra thing about these that must have been reported on somewhere by now: Mr. Miyamoto was revealed to be working on a new Star Fox game at E3 this year. Also, the two 'Project' games are Miyamoto creations. There are Star Fox-related logos visible in the Project: Guard scenery...)

PC - EVOLand - ★★★☆☆
I've had my eye on it for a while, and bit during the Steam summer event. Generally pretty fun, but by the second half the gimmicks have mostly faded away into actually being the kind of game they're joking about. My time was split almost evenly between getting up to the last boss, and then running around collecting everything before taking him out. Finished with 100% completion.

NDS - Picross e4 - ★★★☆☆
This is, I think, the third picross game I've played on a DS. Back to 2D this time. I liked that you get bonus puzzles for being a loyal franchise buyer. Blasted through this one really quick though, in about a month.

NDS - Picross e3 - ★★★☆☆
And having finished that one, I then went and wrapped up the last few puzzles from last year's installment. None of these are as much fun and addictive as Picross DS was though. Maybe because then it was a novelty. It also had the fun Nintendo themed level, which never re-appeared.

iOS - AC-130 Air Gunship - ★★☆☆☆
It's like that level in that AAA shooting game, except a lot less fun! …I still played all 15 levels…

#2,053: Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla (2014) - ★★★☆☆
I think this was probably a good example of a classic Godzilla movie, but I don't know how many times I've actually enjoyed a classic Godzilla movie. Certainly, I liked this more than Monsters, but I think it was a misstep to swap out the charismatic lead for a kind of bland sap-faced dude.

Non-Stop - ★★★½☆
I watched this on a crummy hotel TV, and it was perfect. Solid 90s flavored action with more plot than the trailer gives up. Kind of a preachy speech from one of the bad guys, but he's duly punished for it. Recommended, even if you have to watch it on a high quality screen of some sort.

Duck Soup - ★★☆☆☆
It played much better the first time I saw it, in a packed theater, than it did in my living room. Either way, it's not one of my favorite Marx Brothers movies. Too much a melange.

Edge of Tomorrow - ★★★★☆
I totally expected some kind of twisty turny part after an hour or so, based on what the trailers gave us, but it's not that kind of movie. It's the movie the trailers tell us it's going to be, and it does a great job of being that. Comedic parts, action parts, and the best representation of the meta-nature of being a video game hero, just like everyone says.

Media Monday: Castle of Illusion

PC - Dig Hard - ★★★★☆
This is a great little game jam game co-created by a schoolmate of mine. Brief, but a lot of fun while it lasted. Also, the power went out in my building just as I won, which was a little unsettling.

iOS - Make it Rain - ★☆☆☆☆
Maybe the worst of these incremental clicky games I've played. This one's for iPhone, and spits an awful lot of ads at the player. I did not collect all the things, but I did get to the 'YOU WIN' screen that forces you to stop playing.

PS3 - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - ★★★★☆
Very nicely done short story. Explores the options and mechanics of controlling two characters at once in a lot of fun ways. Would have been fun in co-op, but I get how that sort of defeats the purpose. Pleasantly twisty narrative, lots of places to sit in-game, surprising finale.

PS3 - Pixeljunk Shooter - ★★★☆☆
Replay while watching some videos. Still mostly fun, still reminds me of Solar Jetman, but I think what I really wanted to (re)play was Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

PS3 - Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse - ★★★★★
An unexpected gem. I've been trying a bunch of offerings from PS+ and I didn't think I'd stick with what appears to be Mickey 64, but the level design is fantastic in this. In the early levels, I was impressed with how you always end up visiting and exploring the interesting scenery in the deep background. In the later levels, I was impressed by how time is truly of the essence. I ended up nearly 100 diamonds short and don't plan to go looking for them, but the way that the levels kind of reminded me of rides at Disneyland in terms of tone, or space economy, or delight, or something, was a real treat.

Movie Monday: Days of Future Past

The Hot Rock - ★★★★☆
Last time I said, "Now this was a great caper. In fact, it's a bunch of great capers, since if everything went right it wouldn't be much of a movie. The museum sequence is genuinely suspenseful and clever and terrific."

I mostly agree with me. The museum is still great, and the other sections have great bits, but maybe they're more surprise than suspense, since they didn't hit me as hard this time around.

Snowpiercer - ★★★½☆
It's one of my favorite things in a movie lately when I don't know what's going on, exactly. The plot is easy to describe, but the details and questions raised along the way make it interesting.

I worried this would stomp all over a train-related idea I started writing a while back, but then I found out this is based on a comic from 1982 and there are no new ideas. Finding out that comic book was French does make this Korean movie make a little more sense to me though.

Can't wait to see the American version where everyone lives!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - ★½☆☆☆
This is the opposite of Captain America 2. I have nothing but complaints, with just a few saving graces barely sneaking in. If it were trimmed down to just the scenes with the Giamatti, it could have been a good animated short to include on the DVD of a better movie.

I would have never guessed there'd be a time when I was not excited about the prospect of a Spider-Man movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past - ★★★★☆
I wasn't excited for this one; I don't like most of the X-Men movies, and the director of the old ones coming back seemed like a bad omen. But now, I'm pretty sure this one is my favorite of the bunch!

I think this movie's strength is the choice to not be penned in to exactly where the previous films left off. For like, a decade, I've told anyone who will listen how Spider-Man should be like the 007 franchise - change creative teams now and then, but just keep moving forward. Make references when appropriate or when feeling indulgent, but try to tell a new story each go 'round. You know, like a comic book?

I've read some absolutely idiotic articles this week by people who assume the X-Men have never had an adventure we didn't see on the screen, and they must be the reason why every time someone wants to tell us a new superhero story they feel obliged to serve up a new take on the origin first.

What this movie gets right is figuring that you either know who these characters are, or will be able to figure it out by watching the movie, and then telling a story about them. (What it gets wrong? Yet another comic book movie where we fly around in DNA in the intro. Yet another comic book movie with a plot point hinging on lost powers, even if it was a good take on it this time.)